Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sherlock Holmes, Thomas Aquinas and Reason

I believe that one of the most appealing aspects of detectives--and I put Sherlock Holmes first on this list---is the use of reasoning in crime solving. That was the main thing that attracted me to Thomas Aquinas as a detective. In my latest book The Medieval Adventures of Thomas Aquinas, the medieval theologian/philosopher uses reason in the solving of mysteries.

Reason in man is like God in the world, is a well-known quote of Saint Thomas. He was the man who tried to show the harmony between faith and reason. Thomas believed that God, nature and human beings could be understood through reason. Or as Sherlock Holmes said, There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion. Thomas would agree. 

We cannot have knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves.

Thomas was more than a reasoning machine, of course, for he said, Love takes up where reasoning leaves off. And one of my favorite quotes of his is, Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a warm bath and a glass of wine.
Sherlock Holmes said, Work is the best antidote for sorrow.

I enjoyed learning about Thomas Aquinas and his writings and found it challenging incorporating his teachings into the series of stories in my book.

Stephen Gaspar's books can be found on Amazon.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Thomas Aquinas -- The Pursuit of Truth

    My latest historical novel, The Medieval Adventures of Thomas Aquinas, is a collection of detective stories in which the Dominican Master encounters a series of mysteries during his life.

  The first mystery finds Thomas in 1244, soon after taking his Domincan habit. On his way to meet up with the Master General of the Dominicans Thomas is kidnapped by his older brother Rinaldo and taken to the family castle in Montesangiovanni. Not at all pleased that Thomas has joined a mendicant order, his family hopes to force Thomas to renounce his vows. 
The Castle.
    While being held prisoner in the tower of the castle, Thomas learns of the mysterious death of local farmer. Without leaving the confines of his prison cell, Thomas discovers the truth.                                                          

Stephen Gaspar's books can be found on Amazon                                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Medieval Adventures of Thomas Aquinas

    I first came across Saint Thomas Aquinas while doing research for a historical mystery/detective novel, The Templar and the True Cross. Thomas Aquinas is mentioned only briefly in this book, but what I read about him would stay with me. From the little I knew of the Dominican Master, he seemed like he would make a great detective. I began to research St. Thomas in depth, and though much of his writings for me are heavy and complicated (I have no background in philosophy or medieval thought) I believed there was the making of some great detective stories. 

Stephen Gaspar's books can be found on Amazon.

Image result for thomas aquinas

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Thomas Aquinas (privatus investigo)

    The 13th century was a pivotal point in Western culture. Europe witnessed the rise of the great universities and the resurgence of Aristotelian thought. It was the age of reason. No man exemplified this new age more than Saint Thomas Aquinas, who was a brilliant theologian, a philosopher and privatus investigo. He was the man who perfected faith through reason. 

    The Medieval Adventures of Thomas Aquinas is a fictional account of mysteries Saint Thomas Aquinas encountered during his life. Though a work of fiction, extensive research was carried out to maintain historical accuracy and integrity of the life and times of Saint Thomas. The stories also showcase his masterful style of theology and philosophy.

Stephen Gaspar's books can be found on Amazon.

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Thomas Aquinas P I

    I have just released my latest historical mystery/detective novel, The Medieval Adventures of Thomas Aquinas. It is available on Amazon.

    Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was a Dominican priest, a philosopher and Scriptural theologian. He was born in Italy and taught at the universities of Paris, Cologne and Naples. 

    Thomas wrote a great deal in his life and is credited with the harmonious blending of faith and reason. 
Image result for thomas aquinas

 Stephen Gaspar's books are available on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sherlock Holmes & Robert Service

If you have already read Cold-Hearted Murder, then you know it is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but it is also a Canadian mystery where part of the story takes place in the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush.
After I had written The Canadian Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I did not think I had another Holmes story in me. There had been some nine adventures in the first book which had drained me. I do not know how Conan Doyle could have written 56 short stories and 4 novels. After moving on to another non-Holmes project I got the craving for another Sherlock story. This time I would not write short story adventures but a novel, and I would fashion it after A Study in Scarlet, the very first Holmes story.
I wanted to do a story with the great detective in his usual environs (London), but I still wanted a Canadian connection. Knowing a bit of Canadian history I focused on the Klondike Gold Rush, a drama unique in North American history. I had read Pierre Burton’s (my favourite Canadian historian) The Klondike years before and was amazed by the incredible stories and characters that the gold rush produced.

Robert Service
I thought the Klondike Gold Rush would be a great backdrop for a Holmes story. Like in A Study in Scarlet, my Holmes adventure, Cold-Hearted Murder would have the first part take place in London with Holmes and Watson investigating some gruesome murders. The second part of the story would tell the tale of what led up to the crimes.

Burton’s book had not been my first exposure to the Klondike. As a child I remember my grandfather reciting the poems of Robert Service; The Shooting of Dan McGrew, The Cremation of Sam McGgee, which led me to buy and read all of Service’s poems. His verse about the Klondike were always my favourites. 

There are strange things done in the midnight sun      
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales      
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,      
But the queerest they ever did see ...

Watch youtube video for Cold-Hearted Murder

One of my original characters from The Canadian Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Henry Barclay of the North West Mounted Police makes an appearance in Cold-Hearted Murder as well. You cannot have a good Canadian story without a Mountie. The Mounties were, of course in the Yukon during the Gold Rush to keep order, but that does not mean crime was nonexistent.

Just recently a co-worker gave me a facsimile of a document from the Yukon dated 1903. The document gives permission to a person to view the hanging of two men who killed three people while committing robbery. I decided to investigate and see how many public hangings there were in the Yukon and discovered that between 1899 and 1903 there were seven hangings in Dawson, all for the crime of murder.
This is not so hard to understand when you consider the extraordinary times when thousands of people travel to a remote wilderness on top of the world all hoping to strike it rich.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Canadian Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A brand new paperback version of The Canadian Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Stephen Gaspar has just been released and can be found (along with a the Kindle version) on Amazon.

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter... enjoy.

     In May 1897, soon after the adventure of The Devil’s Foot, Sherlock Holmes and I began a series of adventures across the Atlantic, in Canada.         
    We had been sitting silently for some time across from the hearth in our Baker Street rooms. Suddenly, without any provocation evident to me, Sherlock Holmes turned and said, "So, Watson, what urgent word from our friend Sir Henry Baskerville in Canada?"                I was completely taken aback and stared at my friend in mute amazement.           
    After a moment of silence, Holmes spoke, "You need not look at me as if I were a practitioner of black magic."         
    "How did you guess?" I asked, for we had indeed received a trans-Atlantic cable from Sir Henry Baskerville that very morning, urging us to join him at his cattle ranch in Canada.         
    "I did not have to guess, you told me everything. We have shared these rooms long enough that I know your every mood, and may I say, my dear friend, that you are easier to read than The Times. Your long bout of silence told me that you are worried over some matter, and I have observed you observing me with deep concern. Recently you have mentioned that you have some misgivings regarding my health of late and urged me to take something of a holiday from my cases. Your gaze occasionally came to rest on that single muddy black boot I keep atop the bookcase to remind me of our exploit at Dartmoor and the legend of The Hound of the Baskervilles. When we last heard from our friend Sir Henry, he told us how he was now dividing his time between Baskerville Hall and his now rather large Canadian farm. He also mentioned he would be in Canada about this time of year, and that there were some peculiar doings there that would no doubt interest me, and so left an open invitation for us to visit him in Canada. Hence your unease; you fear I will take up the chase."         
    "How did you know we received word from him just this morning?"         
Image result for jeremy brett sherlock holmes    "I heard Mrs. Hudson ascend the stairs earlier, and I assumed she came to give you the telegram that is protruding from your pocket. You are a man of immediate action and would under most circumstances inform me of its content. You chose to hold it from me, so I inferred it contained something you were reluctant to reveal. What could it be but another case?   Add this to what I mentioned before and I deduced we had received a telegram from Sir Henry in Canada requesting our presence to help solve yet another mystery. He did not write but sent a trans-Atlantic telegram which tells me the matter is urgent. You yourself picked up on this, hence your worry and reluctance to tell me about it."         
    I slumped back into my chair, resigned to the fact that it would be forever impossible to keep a secret from my friend, whose powers of observation and deduction I had both witnessed and chronicled these many years.           
    "Holmes, as your physician and your friend, I strongly advise against a journey to Canada. Surely the climate and harsh conditions would be detrimental to your health and wellbeing, and could prove too much even for your constitution."         
    "Nonsense, Watson," he uttered stifling a chuckle. "All I need to know is, should I book two passages or just one?"         
    "I could not forgive myself if I let you brave the wilds of a frontier colony alone," I remarked, knowing my friend's iron resolve when he sets his mind to something. I decided he would benefit my presence rather than my absence, and I conceded to accompany Holmes.         
    At Waterloo Station, we caught a train and travelled to Southampton, where we would board a ship bound for Canada.
    "Are you not afraid you over-packed, Watson?" remarked Holmes as we sat in our private car. 

   "I do not believe so," I replied. "You can never pack too much when travelling far from home. I have my woolens and winter wear. It is best to be prepared. You never know what we can expect and we may not find a Hudson's Bay post for supplies."           
    Holmes chuckled softly. "Really, Watson. My brother Mycroft may be the family expert on the subject of Canada, but even I know it is not the backwards, backwoods country you would believe. I am certain we will find all the comforts of London over there and be as at home as we are on Baker Street."         
    "I certainly hope so," I commented, taking little offence at his slight. "You know how irritable you become when deprived of your test tubes and scrap books and your chair by the fire."         
    "Touché, Watson," he replied, goodnaturedly. "Your point is well taken."         
Image result for jeremy brett holmes and watson on train    Most of the trip we spent in some silence, I reading up on the manners and customs of Canada from a small pocket gazetteer I purchased prior to departing London. Holmes spent much of his time staring out the window with heavy knit brows, occasionally glancing at the telegram from Sir Henry Baskerville that prompted this trip.
     "There is, I believe Watson, something different in the way Sir Henry worded his telegram that is not in keeping with his levelheaded manner."         
    "Are you saying Sir Henry did not send that wire?" I asked.         
     "On the contrary, only Sir Henry could have sent it, but observe," Holmes remarked and he went on to read it aloud:
            PLEASE COME AT ONCE URGENT                                     
      "He is direct and to the point," commented Holmes. "No greetings or salutations. He actually states the urgency of his situation, and we can read the desperation in his words. We both know Sir Henry is not an excitable man but rather a most practical young man with a fine mind and not without his own resources. Yet he seems to have little recourse left to him and is practically begging us to come to his aid. These are deep waters, Watson, deep and deadly." In Southampton we booked passage on the steamship Dominion City. The master of the ship was Captain Jerome Appleby, a rough looking, taciturn old sailor, whose side whiskers and rugged appearance, which included a crooked nose and a scar on his cheek, seemed to come out of Clark Russell's sea-stories. Fortunately Holmes and I made the acquaintance of the more gregarious first mate, Mister Pitt.           
    "I have been sailing the oceans of the world for two and twenty years gentlemen," declared the handsome, moustached Mr. Pitt at dinner one night. "Things are changing, I'm afraid. Steamships like the Dominion City are the heralds of the future. Soon all that will be left plying the oceans will be these iron hulled vessels spewing smoke across the sky. Almost gone are the days of the glorious wooden square riggers."         
Image result for steamship 1900    As he spoke, I saw the sadness in his eyes for a golden age that was coming to a close, and I too felt a pang of nostalgic regret.           
    "Surely many of the older wooden ships are sound vessels with many useful years remaining," I remarked to Mr. Pitt.           
    He shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid not, Doctor. Owners are discovering steel-hulled ships leak less and can carry more cargo than the older square riggers. Freight rates are low and insurance rates are high. No, gentlemen, I am certain the romantic days of sailing ships are all but gone."

Books by Stephen Gaspar can be found on Amazon